Friday, May 07, 2010

Ilocos Norte & Ilocos Sur: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan (Day 2)

The drive from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte to Vigan, Ilocos Sur was an interesting one too. After breakfast and checking-out from the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon), we drove down to Laoag to catch lunch at Saramsam Restaurant.

On the way, we made sure to stop at the Pasuquin Bakery to taste their really delicious soft biscocho bread. That stop is well worth it. The drive to Laoag is about 2 and a half hours and we were there just in time for lunch.

Saramsam Restaurant is also know for its Ilocano pizzas, particularly the Poque-Poque Pizza which has an eggplant and egg-based Ilocano dish for toppings. Also try out the Longaniza Pizza and their Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Pizza. We also had local dishes that included igado, insarabsab and blanched vegetables with KBL (kamatis, bagoong and lasuna). Dessert was malunggay sherbet with kalamansi which was surprisingly good.

After Laoag, we went straight to Vigan which was another two hours away. We wanted to catch the street dance parade of the Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival so we made sure to leave Laoag as soon as we could reach Vigan before the parade started at 4 p.m.

As soon as we arrived, we checked-in at My Vigan Home, a by-reservations only private guest house. And we were off to Crisologo Street to enjoy the street dancing at the festival.

Part 1: Road trip to Pagudpud
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ilocos Sur & Ilocos Norte: Road trip to Pagudpud (Day 1)

I found myself on the way to Ilocos Norte again for our Ultimate Philippines tour of the north! The first leg of the trip involved a long drive from Makati all the way to Blue Lagoon (Mairaira Cove) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. With stopovers, the trip took 20 hours.

We left Makati 11 p.m. the night before and arrived in La Union at 6 a.m. for breakfast. Oasis Country Resort has a 24-hour restaurant beside the hotel which is very convenient for travelers.

After breakfast, we went straight to our first stop, the Sabangan Cove Weaving Village in Santiago, Ilocos Sur which was two hours away. When you near the town proper of Santiago, watch out for signs pointing to Santiago Cove. The weaving village is where some of the higher-quality abel iloko cloth is woven. Ask around for the house of the barangay captain where many of the looms are located.

From Santiago, we drove over to Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur to visit the Sta. Maria Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was inscribed as part of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

I was quite surprised vendors were selling grapes at Php25 a bag by the church. It turns out, these are grapes that are grown locally in Ilocos Sur. They're a bit small will large seeds bu sweet nonetheless. I wonder if a wine industry will follow.

We made another long drive to Batac, Ilocos Norte for a quick snack stop at Glory's Empanada. It's about two hours from Sta. Maria. For me, the best Ilocos empanada is the one served in Batac. Near the empanadahan is the Marcos Mausoleum where the preserved body of President Ferdinand E. Marcos lies in state.

We had a late lunch in Herencia Cafe in Paoay, Ilocos Norte which is most know for its Pinakbet Pizza, Dinuguan Pizza, Bagnet Pizza and other fusion and traditional Ilocano dishes. In front of the restaurant is the Paoay Church, a majestic example of Philippine Baroque architecture, and another UNESCO-inscribed church.

Our last two stops for the day were the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, a National Cultural Treasure, and the Bangui Wind Farm Project or the Bangui Windmills.

There were just too many people in the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. I think it's about time they charge a little entrance fee to help in its upkeep and preservation with crowds wearing out this cultural treasure. There aren't even any restrooms.

For the Bagui Windmills, most people only pass by the view deck. But you could actually drive down to the beach for a better and close-up view of this massive sustainable energy project.

We arrived at the Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte at about 7 p.m. just in time for a sumptuous buffet dinner. The main dish was Kahlua Pig, which is pork cooked the traditional Hawaiian way, wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a pit of hot charcoal under the sand. We also had salads, grilled chicken, marlin kilawin and seafood sisig among other stuff.

Part 2: Road trip from Pagudpud to Vigan
Part 3: Arce Mansion in Vigan, a colonial Ilocano dinner experience
Part 4: Historic Town of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part 5: Tres de Mayo Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Part 6: Where to stay in Vigan (Hotels & Accommodation)

Cavite: Visita iglesia to the heritage churches of Cavite

Cavite has a good number of intact heritage churches. Despite its proximity to Metro Manila, it was the first time I visited several of the churches. So here are some churches to visit if you want to do a visita iglesia in Cavite.

Our first stop was Kawit Church. According to the marker in front of the church, it became a Jesuit mission in 1624, with the first church of wood built in 1638 and placed under the patronage of Santa Maria Magdalena. The cornerstone of the current church was laid in 1737. It was transferred to the care of secular priests in 1768, and the Recollects in 1849. In 1869, President Emilio Aguinaldo was baptized in this church.

From Kawit, we drove all the way to the Maragondon Church, a National Cultural Treasure. It was first constructed by the Jesuits in 1618 under the patronage of the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. A new church was constructed from 1630 to 1633, but was demolished between 1646 to 1649 to prevent it from becoming a Dutch fortress. The current stone church was constructed in 1714.

In 1768, it was transferred to the care of secular priests, and the Recollects in 1860. It became a base of the Philippine Revolutionary Army when Maragondon became the headquarters of the forces of Gen. Aguinaldo in 1897. It became a National Cultural Treasure in 2001.

On our way back to Manila, we passed by three more churches namely Naic, Tanza and Gen. Trias.

The convent of the Tanza Church played a significant role in Philippine history. It was where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and Gen. Mariano Trias took their oaths as president and vice president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on March 23, 1897 after their election at the Tejeros Convention the day before.

Gen. Trias Church was first constructed by the Franciscans in 1611 as a visita of Kawit. It was turned over to the Jesuit mission of Cavite Puerto in 1624. In 1753, the Church of San Francisco Malabon (the old name of Gen. Trias) became a separate parish.

The current stone church was constructed under the leadership of Dona Maria Josepha Yrizzari y Ursula, Condesa de Lizarraga in 1769. Her gravestone is still prominently seen by the main door of the church. It was in this church that the Banda Matanda practiced the Marcha Filipina before it was played during the June 12, 1898 declaration of Philippine independence.

Although we weren't able to visit the Silang Church, it's another interesting church which you should visit if you're in Cavite.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cavite: Andres Bonifacio and Maragondon, Cavite

Andres Bonifacio and Maragondon, Cavite will always be synonymous, a reminder of the tragedy of the Philippine Revolution where political ambition reigned supreme over national unity. Maragondon is the Cavite town where Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan and first recognized leader of the Philippine Revolution, was unfairly tried and ruthlessly executed.

The story of any historical tour to Cavite will not be complete without visiting Maragondon. In Maragondon, we visited the Bonifacio Trial House which is also managed by the National Historical Institute. Just like the Aguinaldo Shrine, entrance is free and it's closed on Mondays.

This residence of Teodorico Reyes was were one of the tragedies of Philippine history unfolded. A life-size diorama of the trial of the founder of the Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, reminds us of this brazen act committed by our founding fathers. I guess some things never change in Philippine politics.

Don't forget to drop by the Maragondon Church which is a National Cultural Treasure.

Further down the National Highway, on the way to Ternate, ask around for the Bonifacio Shrine or Mount Nagpatong. Few people know that the Bonifacio Shrine exists. So if they point you back to the Maragondon town proper, ask someone else.

Once you find the left turn, just follow the road and the initial signs. The road will get quite rough so it's best to bring a vehicle suitable for rough roads. After you cross a small bridge and reach a fenced-off area, make sure to ask for directions again since there are no more signs inside. You'll know you're on the right track when you reach a bamboo gate which you have to open yourself. From there, the road should be paved going to the Bonifacio Execution Site.

I remember this Bonifacio Shrine from several years back because sculptor Toym Imao mentioned to me he was working on it and showed his initial sketches. It turned out to be a really nice larger-than-life monument to Andres Bonifacio, Procopio Bonifacio and their unfortunate execution.

There's a Php20 entrance fee. It's a gated compound so if the gate is locked, just blow your horn so the caretaker will know that you're there. More posts on Cavite coming up. I'll also be posting photos soon in the Ivan About Town Facebook page. So do check them out.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cavite: Around historic Cavite

Cavite has always held an important place in our history books, having been a hotbed of the Philippine Revolution. And a really good way to understand this history is by visiting the sites mentioned in our textbooks.

Together with several followers of Ivan About Town, I visited the different historical sites in Cavite. The first on our list was the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine and the Site of the Declaration of Philippine Independence in Kawit.

This historical site is managed by the National Historical Institute. Entrance is free. But do take note that it's closed on Mondays like most government museums. At the Aguinaldo Shrine, you get to see memorabilia and personal items of the former president, artifacts related to the Philippine Revolution such as several of the first Philippine flags, as well as the palatial residence of President Emilio F. Aguinaldo from which balcony, Philippine independence was declared.

Behind the house is the final resting place of Aguinaldo. From his house, we drove over to the Kawit Church which has a really intricate main altar retablo.

Our next stop was supposed to be Fort San Felipe in Cavite City. Unfortunately, it's inside a Philippine Navy-controlled area. And according to the guard at the gate, you'll need to get approval from the higher-ups to enter. I was quite irritated since that is part of our history and people deserve the right to see it sans the bureaucracy. The Cavite Provincial Government should take Fort San Felipe off its list of tourism attractions if it cannot negotiate access for tourists from the Philippine Navy. Can't they simply ask visitors to present government-issued IDs to enter?

Anyway, we stopped by the Trece Martires Monument near the fort area before proceeding to lunch at Malen's Restaurant in Noveleta.

After lunch, we drove all the way to Maragondon to visit the Bonifiacio Trial House, Maragondon Church and the Bonifacio Execution Site with the newly-erected Bonifacio Shrine done by sculptor Toym Imao which I really liked. More details on this in another post about Maragondon.

We made our way to Naic Church, Tanza Church (where Aguinaldo took his oath as president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government in 1897) and Gen. Trias Church.

We were supposed to visit the Site of the Battle of Alapan in Imus where the Philippine flag first saw action. But even people in Brgy. Alapan didn't know where it was and sadly, we couldn't find it. It's quite disconcerting that this site was part of the Philippine Centennial Trail and years after the celebration, even the local community was oblivious to its existence. Before Imus continues to parade itself as the Flag Capital of the Philippines, it should first educate the local community why it should be called such and install proper brown tourism road directional signs pointing towards the site.

Our last stop for the day was the very popular Digman Halo-Halo in Bacoor. A lot of people were raving about it and it's been featured in a lot of national dailies and magazines. But to me, it was like any other halo-halo. I guess for someone used to the rich and flavorful versions of halo-halo in Pampanga, this did not wow me that much. It's funny that there was some confusion when we got there because there were two stores claiming to the the original Digman Halo-Halo.

More posts on Cavite coming up. I'll also be posting photos soon in the Ivan About Town Facebook page. So do check them out.
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